Page images
PDF
EPUB

of warfare and trial. The foes of the Christian are many and they are mighty. His own unsubdued passions, the world, with its temptations on the one hand and its reproaches on the other, and the great adversary of mankind going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, are continually arrayed against him; and he must be always upon his guard, always ready for the encounter. Nor does he, except in occasional moments of discomfiture and depression, shrink from the battle-field. It is his earnest desire to fight the good fight of faith, and to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. To ask for victory and rest from a mere love of selfish ease is inconsistent with his principles and feelings. God has called him to the contest, and when he sees fit will call him to his reward; till then he is willing to wait and toil and struggle on. His prayer is that when his Lord comes he may find him watching. This is a right spirit. We ought not to grow weary in well-doing. We ought not to wish for our crown before our conflict is ended. But at the same time we may look forward to our rest with hope and gladIn the midst of our conflict with evil we may soothe and refresh our spirits with the thought of final victory. As we press forward in our heavenward journey, encompassed by difficulties and beset

ness.

with dangers, we may rejoice in the consideration that

"We nightly fix our moving tent

A day's march nearer home!"

Yes: our warfare will soon be over-our rest attained.

And how cheering is the reflection that holiness as well as rest is linked with our anticipations of heaven! Nothing that defileth can enter there. The Church above is "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but holy and without blemish."* The Christian, it is true, is already sanctified by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Sin has no longer dominion over him; for the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, teaches him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. His heart is purified by faith. He has put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness. He has been adopted into God's family, renewed in his image, and made a partaker of his holiness. But as yet how imperfect is the resem blance which he bears! how feeble are the attainments which he has made! While he delights in the law of God after the inward man, he sees another * Eph. v. 27.

law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin, so that in the anguish of his spirit he exclaims with the apostle, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?"* Day by day he presses toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, but he is often sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before him; sometimes he stumbles and falls; and sometimes he wanders into some by-path which leads him into distress and danger; and although he never gives up, although each revival of the sin which so easily besets him-each temptation to which through unwatchfulness and self-dependence he yields-only prompts him to more prayerful and vigorous efforts for the future, can we wonder if he anticipates with eagerness and delight the moment when he shall be freed from the defilement and imperfection of his present condition, and be perfectly conformed to the image of his Saviour? Oh, to have his will entirely absorbed in God's will; to have every thought in unison with his mind; to have self for ever lost sight of in the radiance of his glory; to be holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in his presence! How delightful is this prospect !

*Rom. vii. 24

how all-sustaining is this hope! And as years increase, as life declines, his desire after perfected holiness grows stronger and stronger, until it overcomes his fear of death and weakens the fondest ties which link him to earth. He is ready to leave all around him, and to press through all before him, in order that he may be separated from sin and be completely assimilated to the likeness of Christ. "We shall be like him!" is the thought-the glorious thoughtwhich makes heaven so precious in his estimation. He longs more for purity than he does for rest. He wants to be holy, sinless, perfected.

His desire will soon be granted, his hope realized. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." Filled? Satisfied? Yes. When? In part now, in completeness hereafter. In heaven they hunger no more, neither thirst any more: they are restored to the image of their God, and are faultless before his throne.

And then how delightful to the thoughtful and inquiring Christian-and every Christian ought to sustain this character-is the assurance that in a future state our knowledge will be greatly increased! In this world how limited are our highest acquirements! We are like children playing on the sea-shore. and

diverting ourselves, now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lies all undiscovered before us. But what we know not now, we shall know hereafter. Now we see through a glass darkly; now we know but in part; but then we shall see face to face, and know even as we are known. Many deeply interesting and important questions which are unanswered now will be solved then. Many difficulties which perplex us now will be explained then. How numerous are the mysteries in Providence, both in connection with our own history and with the history of others, which will then be unravelled! How varied are the mysteries in religion which will then be clear to us as the light of noonday! And our knowledge will be ever increasing. The first glance into eternity will not reveal to us all that it has to unfold. We shall be always learning something new-continually making fresh discoveries of the wisdom and power and goodness of God. And this without weariness, without effort, without disappointment.

Associated with the perfected development and probable augmentation of our intellectual powers, is the noble and uninterrupted service in which we shall be engaged above. Alas! how feeble and how poor

« PreviousContinue »